Chapter 291 Final Prep: Necropolis
Aldrich stepped into Medula's grand library, the rows and rows of dozen meter high bookshelves of midnight black wood staring invitingly back at him.
"Lusting after my collection already, are we?" Medula dusted off a few tomes on a top shelf and floated down, two small bat wings fanned out to her sides.
"Well, I definitely don't have time to waste," said Aldrich.
Medula sighed. "I seem to be owing you more and more. First, I have allowed you to summon me - that is not so bad, I am curious to see your realm, but now this blatant theft of my collection is a little harder to stomach."
"I'll remind you that it's sponsored by your boss," said Aldrich.
"Hi Meddy" Chrysa waved at Medula from Aldrich's shoulder.
"Greetings, little one. I see you have tested yourself in a fight," said Medula.
"You can tell? It was exciting! There were so many monsters called demons, and I had wapped and bapped them with the way you told me to use my mana!" Chrysa gesticulated wildly. "Some of them were really strong, though, and really mean."
"My kind are not known for their kindness, indeed," said Medula.
"Oh right, are you okay with father and I beating up demons? Your friends?"
"There is nothing a demon hates more than another demon," said Medula. "Demons will amuse themselves with mortals they consider their lesser, but they leave all their serious rage to the gods and their own.
And, as far as I am aware, you two dealt with secret demons. I hold no friendliness to them. In fact, my kind, the demons of knowledge, are directly opposed to them, for as we relish in learning and spreading knowledge, secret demons are the opposite, seeing no greater purpose than in never telling the truth, in ever holding to their own knowledge that they do not even need."
"Nice to know that secret and knowledge demons still hate each other." Aldrich knew that in Elden World, those two demon factions had almost the worst relation with each other, rivaling the likes of idle demons not getting along with energetic war demons. "That will make this easier."
Aldrich manifested both the heart of Barbos and Nilah.
"Ah, demonhearts. Half purified, I see. Why not fully burn them away? It is not as if these secret hoarders do anything useful to merit existence," said Medula calmly.
"They could still be useful. This one-," Aldrich held up Barbos. "Is a Greater Demon whose will is fully captured in here. He claims to know things about my situation, about this entire system that brought us here."
"Of course he would. He is a secret demon. Their kind fishes for information with lies all the time. They ought to be called falsehood demons in my opinion." Medula stared at the purple orb incredulously.
"I know that. Secret demons never tell the truth, for everything they say is a secret. But I want to know if there's a way to force him to tell it."
"Force? Demonic souls are difficult to affect." Medula rubbed her dark eye bags. "As you know, necromancy cannot taint them, not even at the scale of the Death Lord. There is simply no 'controlling' a demon. The majority of us lack a mortal sense of self preservation, either, for we do not place great value in our continued existences.
Just as chaos may flicker into existence at a sudden spark, so too may it snuff out with a sudden wind. That is how most demons treat existence, hence, they have no concern whether they die or not, it is simply how things are.
Thus, torture in a mortal sense is completely useless."
Aldrich looked at the vast collection of books around them. "You don't have anything here that can make the demons talk?"
"No. Apocryphal texts make reference to divine influence that can take control over demons, but we do not have much in the way of divine presence now, do we?"
"Hm. Nevertheless, I'd like you to try. The fifth trial quest involves gods, so when I get to it, I'll collaborate with you on this matter again," said Aldrich.
"I will not disavow an opportunity to cause a secret demon to suffer, so I will certainly try." Medula reached out and took Barbos's heart. She eyed the other heart in Aldrich's hand. It was not purple but greyed out, indicating that Nilah's actual soul was not in there. "And what of that one? If my senses do not deceive me, that is an archdedmon heart fragment."
"Right. This one has no soul in it, so it's just raw material. I'd like you to process this into Cursevein."
Cursevein was the refined upgrade material one processed from a demonheart. It looked like a black chord of flesh that went into the creation of curse related items or spells.
In the game, one had to go to a group of ever moving, mysterious hooded artificers and merchants called the Facestealers to get Cursevein made.
"You will need a Facestealer for that," said Medula, restating Aldrich's thoughts.
"I know, which is why I was hoping you had the knowledge," said Aldrich. "Considering that you are, you know, a demon of knowledge."
"I do, but it will take time, for the Facestealers are quite tight lipped of their methods. It will also take some effort that will involve Wai'Ki as well. I should say that warrants a favor for me, no?"
Aldrich crossed his arms. "Name your price."
Medula looked away, caressing the spine of a book. "The creature that Chrysa derives from - the Chrysalis - I want more samples of them. As many as you can give me."
"For what reason, can I ask?"
"Chrysa is naturally in tune with spatial forces due to her species' abilities. It is a rare ability. I cannot experiment on Chrysa for obvious reasons, so is it not natural, then, I would ask for additional samples?"
"That doesn't answer anything."
Medula eyed Aldrich with red gaze. She shrugged. "I will use the samples to experiment on freeing the Necropolis from you. As we are now, we are codependent, for you are our existential anchor.
If you fall, we fall, hence there is has been an unspoken alliance between us wherein we of the Necropolis support you to maintain our own existences.
But if we are able to manifest in your realm independently, then there is no more reason for this co dependence."
"And, think in my perspective for a bit, why would I allow that to happen? We may be on good terms now, but it's as you say necessitated by the fact that all of you have to rely on me to exist.
It's one of the reasons I've been rather lax on making deals with you or the Death Lord. In the end, if I'm harmed, all of you go down with me.
Take that leverage away from me, and our cooperation becomes a littleâ€¦tenuous."
"Then you wish for us to remain your tool for eternity?" Medula's voice dripped with accusation.
"I see. So one of the reasons you all have been funneling power into me was to pad me up. Make me tough enough to eventually owe you enough to find a way to break you out of this prison."
Chrysa looked between Aldrich and Medula with rising concern.
"Now now, to yearn for freedom is simply natural, no?" The Death Lord's loud voice boomed throughout the normally quiet library. Medula's eyes twitched in annoyance, not at all fond of decibels above a a page turning.
The Death Lord flew into the conversation, standing in front of Aldrich. She smiled at Chrysa and Aldrich, indicating no hostile intent.